TEDx Storytelling Culture

The Values of TEDx: Building a Resilient Storytelling Culture

Year 11.
Last week we announced our 11th year of speakers for TEDxColumbus.  I’ve transitioned to become a member of the curatorial committee, after 10 years of chairing and facilitating it.

It reminded me of the values on which TEDx was formed and how they’ve helped to translate and ground us in our own coaching and training practice. It’s always good to revisit those values, and I hope by doing so, they will help others build what I call resilient storytelling cultures.

The Values of TEDxColumbus and TEDx Storytelling Culture.

A. The Democratization of Ideas.

Creating one stage, one audience, one set of speakers is how TED started and continues to do it. No breakouts, no hierarchy or one speaker better than another. Sure, some may get more time to explain a more complex idea, but otherwise the ideas are truly treated equal.

B.  The idea matters first, then the person.

When we curate a TEDx event or a TED-like event inside a company or organization, we care most about the idea and will it provoke the audience, bring them new thinking, draw out a bias or inspire them to new action. While the person delivering the talk is very important, it is the ideas we choose first.

C. An idea is not worth spreading just because you experienced it.

It is worth spreading because it applies to a larger audience than yourself when others can benefit and relate.

Undoubtedly, the hardest talks to pick are those in the “personal story” category. Since we limit the number of personal talks (against those in technology, design, medicine, science, research, engineering, social change, etc), the more compelling stories will always tip the scales. Remember the other two (general) categories are ownership of Intellectual Property and front-row trend watcher.

D. Ideas come on a spectrum of maturity.

Some are still nuggets in your brain, some others are built out but not yet proven fully, and some have insights and reflections based in truths that are undeniable. Largely, TEDx talks are looking for the last category. Talks that project an idea still in the rumination phase usually are not received well by audiences.

E. Whenever someone is chosen for a talk, there is a lot of work that goes into taking the idea and expressing it through a great talk.

We have found repeatedly that what someone invests in time, practice, iteration and delivery will return in spades. The value of accountability is super strong in the process of preparing a talk – and we are known for building accountable schedules that almost guarantee you’ll deliver a great talk no matter the event or audience.

Ruth Milligan is the Founder, Managing Director and an Executive Coach and Trainer with Articulation. She is perhaps best known as one of the original curators for any TEDx event (the license program for TED). Since 2009, Ruth has selected and coached over 200 speakers who have taken the TEDxColumbus stage. She is often tapped as an expert in the TED-style of speaking and has authored a class on how to be a TEDx speaker coach. Connect with Ruth.